This thread is to correct the common misconceptions that many folks on this forum have about MP3 players. My main reasons for doing this are these: - To bridge the gap between people who listen to music on MP3 players and those who don't because of the misconceptions listed below. Those who do listen to MP3 players can't understand why the non-listeners don't and vice-versa. I'd like to erase this misunderstanding so we're all on the same page when talking about the format. - To offer a new format to those who have up until now completely dismissed it because of the misconceptions. The MP3 player can offer quality and convenience that the uninformed may have never even realized possible. Before proceeding, I'd like to add a disclaimer to this post. I'll be mentioning the iPod and other Apple products in detail. This is not only because the iPod is the most popular MP3 player on the market, but because it is the one with which I am the most familiar. Other MP3 players may offer the features I'll mention, and I'll try to note that when I know it to be true. Others may chime in on other players if I miss something. I add this disclaimer because I don't want to be perceived as an Apple shill or fanboy; the absence of other brands in my posts should be taken as a lack of knowledge on my part about those brands rather than a biased preference to Apple products. Now for the misconceptions and their corrections: Myth: MP3 players are inferior because the MP3 format is inferior. Reality: The term "MP3 player" is somewhat of a misnomer. While all MP3 players play MP3s, they almost always play lossless formats* as well. The term "MP3" is so universally understood as "digital music that plays on a computer" that it's been very hard to shake the term from the consumer consciousness. There have been some attempts to replace the term "MP3 player" with "digital audio player (DAP)" or "digital media player (DMP)," but this has obviously not resonated with consumers. Therefore "MP3 player" remains the most popular term when talking about these devices. Lossless formats tend to differ among MP3 players; while most support WAV, they also support file-compressed but still lossless formats, many of which are proprietary. Apple has its own lossless format called Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC); Microsoft has Windows Media Lossless which is supported by Zune; players offered by other companies often support open-source lossless formats like FLAC. These formats can be converted from one to the other without losing quality, so if you have a mountain of FLAC files and want to buy a Zune, these can be converted to Windows Media Lossless without losing any quality. *Note that "lossless" in this sense means that a conversion from the redbook CD format to the new format results in file compression without a loss in sound quality. I realize that many audiophiles consider the redbook CD format to be "lossy" when compared with analog formats like vinyl, so I don't want to open up a discussion about the non-existence of a true lossless digital format. I will also not attempt to show that the MP3 format itself can be comparable to lossless formats as this would not be a productive discussion and would detract from the point that most MP3 players can offer CD quality, regardless of whether the user considers MP3 format to be CD quality or not. Myth: MP3 players must be listened to with earbuds. Reality: While it's true that most MP3 players include low-quality earbuds in the packaging, every MP3 player I've ever encountered has a 1/8-inch audio jack so that your favorite headphones can be used with it. If your headphones have a 1/4-inch plug, you can easily obtain an adapter from most electronics stores like Radio Shack or Best Buy. The only limitation with using the headphone jack is the MP3 player's built-in amplifier, but an external amplifier is always an option. Many companies offer small, portable headphone amplifiers that can be used with any MP3 player with a headphone jack. Myth: MP3 players are for listening to music on-the-go with headphones, not in the comfort of one's home through speakers. Reality: At the very least, most MP3 players have a port on the bottom to which a dock can be attached, and that dock can be connected to any audio system with RCA plugs. Even the players that don't have this port can still be connected to any audio system with a 1/8-inch to RCA adapter. Other players with wi-fi connectivity offer even more options. The iPod touch, iPad and iPhone work wonderfully with a product called Apple TV. Despite its name, Apple TV can be used as a sort of dock for an iPod touch, iPad or iPhone in that with Apple's AirPlay technology, music can be selected from one of these devices and wirelessly played back on Apple TV. Since the iPod touch, iPad and iPhone all have touch screens, all of the user interaction is done on the device itself, meaning that no TV is actually required to use this feature. The Apple TV has both HDMI and optical outputs, so you can plug it into your compatible AV receiver or supply your own high-quality DAC. Add a Mac or PC running iTunes into the mix and your storage capibilities become endless, since these devices can also stream music from an iTunes library to the Apple TV. This means that no matter how much digital music you own, your entire library can be streamed in CD quality (or better if your music is in 24-bit WAV format) to your stereo system. Who wouldn't want to be able to access one's entire CD collection from a device the size of a deck of cards and be able to play it on one's stereo system with no loss of quality? I hope this offers at least a glimpse of how an MP3 player can add quality and convenience to your music-listening experience and shatters some of the misconceptions that may have kept you until now from experiencing them.